MLB to expand instant replay in 2014
Calling it a historic moment, Commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday that Major League Baseball plans to expand its video review process next season, giving managers a tool they’ve never had in an effort to dramatically reduce the number of incorrect calls made in games.
Selig made the announcement after two days of meetings with representatives of the 30 teams. The proposal is to be voted on by the owners in November.
“I’m proud of them,” Selig said of the replay committee. “It’s worked out remarkably well. It’s historic. There’s no question about it.”
A 75 percent vote by the owners is needed for approval, and the players’ association and umpires would have to agree to any changes to the current system. But the announcement was met with mostly praise at ballparks across the country.
“This is the time. It’s time to make the right decision,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It was not available several years ago. So, just live with it, understand it. It makes things better. It makes things more accurate, so what’s wrong with that.”
MLB vice president Joe Torre gave the replay presentation to representatives from all 30 teams on Wednesday and it was discussed Thursday.
Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, a member of the replay committee along with Torre and former manager Tony La Russa, said the umpires were receptive to the change. Schuerholz said 89 percent of incorrect calls made in the past will be reviewable, but he did not provide a list.
Umpires have come under increased scrutiny following several missed calls this season.
“We believe this will be very impactful and very, very meaningful and useful for all sides,” Schuerholz said. “Managers will have a new tool that they’ll have to learn how to use.”
Managers will be allowed one challenge over the first six innings of a game and two from the seventh inning until the completion of the game.
Calls that are challenged will be reviewed by a crew in MLB headquarters in New York City, which will make a final ruling.
A manager who sees a call he feels is incorrect can file a challenge with the crew chief or home plate umpire. Only reviewable plays can be challenged.
Non-reviewable plays can still be argued by managers, who can request that the umpires discuss it to see if another member of the crew saw the play differently. Reviewable plays cannot be argued by the manager.
Challenges not used in the first six innings will not carry over, and a manager who wins a challenge will retain it.
The home run replay rules currently in use will be grandfathered in to the new system, Schuerholz said.
MLB expects to use the new system in the 2014 playoffs, and the system could be enhanced in the postseason. Training sessions for umpires will start in the Arizona Fall League this winter and continue into spring training.
“We know we have to prepare people for this,” Schuerholz said. “Everyone is embracing it. We believe managers will in time.”
Schuerholz said after the first year MLB will look at what worked and what didn’t and make adjustments for 2015. “It’s going to take some time,” he said.
One of Selig’s major concerns was the possible slowing of games. Schuerholz said with a direct line of communication between the central office and the ballparks the expectation is that replays under the new system will take 1 minute, 15 seconds.